M3 going back – not all is as it seems

So it turns out that my M3 isn’t actually a Competition Pack car after all.

I have been having intermittent problems with my starter motor on my new M3. As the car has stop/start this was causing a multitude of problems whilst driving normally in traffic. The M3 is known for being a very thirsty car and the stop/start mechanism is a proven way of significantly increasing the mpg.

For some reason, when the engine became warm, it would not start up on first second or even the final third attempt of the starter motor firing, leaving me stranded at a traffic light until eventually it would kickstart back into life again.


So I called BMW service and booked a warranty job which isn’t a problem as BMW are normally very good with things like this.

However I was then asked on the phone by BMW where I had bought the car from. I explained to her I’d only just recently purchased it from independent dealer. For some reason this prompted her to go into an explanation about how the warranty may not be covered if the car had any aftermarket modifications to it. I was convinced it hadn’t and I explain this to her on the phone but did start getting a little concerned.


When I first saw the car in the Nottingham showroom, the salesman started the M3 up indoors and the entire showroom shook in its roots as this glorious VA soundtrack rocked into life. I was so shocked at the volume I asked the dealer if he was sure it was standard and he said it was.

Upon further inspection on the back box upon arrival at home, I noticed the bores were very large. And here started my suspicions.


I have a friend who works close to the motor trade and I asked him if he could do a quick HPI check for me. I know, I know, I should have done this before I bought the car but I did take lots of advice and in fact I was told I was being paranoid for doing so many checks on what was essentially a very nearly new car.

Firstly there was no Competition Pack listed on the original sales manifest. There was also EDC listed which shouldn’t have been given that EDC came standard with Competition Packs. I thought was strange so I called up the supplying dealer Ipswich Cooper who claimed much to my horror that the car was not supplied with the Competition Pack. For those that don’t know, competition pack includes special bigger wheels, Lower suspension springs, a revised DCT software setting and some other software changes which currently allude me.


Much toing and froing later I decided to take it to my local BMW dealership who I’m familiar with, having bought a couple of cars from them. The moment he came out to see the car he pointed to the wheels and said that they were not Competition Pack wheels and that they were, in fact, fake BBS non-BMW items.

This was very worrying for me as I’ve just realised that I’ve just spent £40,000 on a car that wasn’t what I thought it was.

After three days of e-mails and phone calls with supplying independent dealer, they had eventually agreed to buy the car back of me and essentially give me a full refund. Trading standards are very strict with this kind of thing and I suspect most motor dealers are aware of this and as a result I was able to reach a rather quick resolve to what could have been A very unpleasant sticky situation.


At the time of writing I still haven’t received a refund so the fat lady hasn’t quite sung yet but in all honesty the supplying independent dealer has not given me any reason to be concerned about that as they had been very forthright from the beginning and I genuinely believe that they, too, had made an honest mistake in purchasing a car as a Competition Pack when in fact it was never one in the first place.

The moral of the story is no matter how honest and genuine your salesman or dealership is it does not take into consideration the potential for fraudulent activity by any previous person that is part of your buy/sell chain. It does appear that the previous owner has told a few porkies!


Always check out the supplying manifest details to ensure that the car is exact car you’re buying. HPI checks may not even be enough so make sure you see or ask for the original sales dockets and invoices to ensure that the car comes with all the parts as advertised. Many modern options aren’t actually visible to the naked eye and in fact there is potential you wouldn’t even know if they were there or not, even after driving.

I’ll end this to say that dealing with Parkway in Nottingham has been very fortuitous as I suspect most independent dealers would have done everything in their power to have not honoured a refund.

Having said that the M3 is actually a spectacular car. That exhaust pipe is an absolute monster and genuinely gives the car a NASCAR feel. At least daily, I am stopped by other people to tell me how good the car sounds from the outside, although to be fair I am normally gunning it! It looks beautiful, has a wonderfully balanced chassis and a V8 engine that likes to scream just as much as it likes to purr. This particular example genuinely is a really good car and I found no fault with it apart from the minor issue which warranty would’ve fixed anyway. It just isn’t a competition pack car and that from me is a large enough issue to want to have sent it back.

Has this experience tainted me so far that I no longer want to buy another M3? I think so yes. But every cloud has a silver lining and I’ve already put a deposit down on a replacement.